Monday, 25 May 2020

Aravaipa Running Adrenaline Dawn Breaker 106K

Of course Sulphur 100K got postponed, I have kept up training for the race because I was planning on doing the distance no matter what, because I feel it necessary to gain more experience doing 100K+ before attempting 100 miles in 2021. Then as things usually happen, I saw the perfect virtual race. Adrenaline Dawn Breaker 106K. What's 6K more?!

I chose Wildwood Conservation Area because a) it was open and b) I enjoyed running there during Rugged Raccoon. I did the first 6K solo, out and back in the other direction than the main loop. It was not difficult to convince people to come out to keep me company.

 Socially distanced hello to Bogdan. 📷Lori 

Lori, Bogdan and Dan came out for loop 1. We took the Field of Burrs loop, which made the loop a bit too long, so I didn't do it again.
📷 Lori Me, Bogdan and Dan
Refueled with a lemon-lavender donut from Lady Glaze.

Lori stuck around for a second loop, and Agnes and Delano joined us. I had had a poor sleep the night before, and I started feeling very tired. Salty snacks helped a bit to revive me. 

Tired enough for a trail nap. 📷 Lori

Towards the end of loop 2, we passed a man, who teaches Lori's son, we had passed him at the beginning of loop 1 and he seemed fairly impressed by my goal, but this time, he asked Lori why I was so slow - big talk for a guy who didn't finish 23K in 8 hours and without the balls to say it to my face!

A GVRAT1000k new tradition: pose with yellow gates.
A changing of the guard for the evening. Steve had paced me from 60-80K at Sulphur 2017 and offered to bring it home this year. We made sure to bring headlamps, warm clothes and headed out into the night. The night was filled with critters: bounding deer, worms sneaking back into the ground at our footsteps, a weasel fighting with a mouse, carp, turkeys, June beetles (gross!), mysterious eyes staring into the headlamp glow, and flappy things (birds or bats?) unseen but flapping very closely overhead.

Before loop 3. 📷 Lori
It would have been so easy for me to call it quits after 3 loops, I told Steve not to let me quit. Slowly the darkness began to lift.

My first time seeing a second sunrise.
My watch showed low battery for the 2nd time and immediately died before I could attach the charger, so I had to start a 2nd run. I was sure the watch had read 98 something when it died, so Steve and I had a disagreement with how much there was left to run.

When I got home, it was an ISH run, according to my watch.

During this run, I achieved new PBs in 50 mile, 100K, longest distance run, and highest weekly mileage. I ran 106K in less time than it took me to run 100K in 2017. I am feeling confident in running 24 hours at Tally in the Valley, whether the race happens officially or not. I am proud at having organized such an epic event on my own. I am immensely grateful for all the people who came out to support me. ❤💕💖❤💕💖

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Yeti Ultra 24 hr Challenge

With all races cancelled, the Yeti Ultra 24 hr Challenge originally flew under the radar, but when I realized it was a chance to run a Yeti race and get some of my favourite swag, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Run 5 miles (8.05K) every 4 hours, for 24 hours. My friend Alissa did the challenge last week, and she explained her choice to start at 5 am, which made sense, but I knew I couldn't motivate myself to get up that early, so I settled on 6 am for a start time.

I had a rough idea of where I wanted to do each run, and I also knew I wanted to run 2K extra somewhere to make it an even 50K for the day. I also was open to a road or dreadmill run if necessary, but only as a last resort.

The first run started promptly at 6 am in the pre-dawn. I had brought my headlamp, but realized I didn't need it 5 minutes in. The only other people I saw were dog walkers and thought it was a bad omen when an off leash German Shepherd lunged, barked and snarled at me. I finished unscathed and took a shower when I got home, because I was freezing, and ate Second Breakfast.

I picked mostly easy trails for the runs, but I knew this section wasn't quite 4K out and back so I went in the other direction for a bit, which is very steep and technical. I started out wearing fleece tights under my skirt and I stopped off at the car to lose my pants before completing the run in the other easier direction. Got lunch after this run and lay down with the heated blanket a bit..because I was again freezing.

2 pm on a sunny Saturday meant that it would be busy, closed trails be damned. I was going to do a secret 8K loop, but because parking lots are all closed in that area, the loop would be a lot longer, and since the secret loop is very hilly, I didn't want to add on distance. This was the muddiest run. I was thinking about wearing 6 different outfits and the sheer amount of laundry intimidated me to the point where I gritted my teeth and put a damp shirt and bra back in. Ewwww. I showered my bottom half to rinse off the mud, then back to bed and the heated blanket, where I warmed up but couldn't sleep.

6 pm meant there were still quite a few people on the trails. I added a fresh tank under the shirt but the wind was insane and I was cold. This was the most technical run and I'm glad I did it before sunset. Then dinner...I wanted a beer but I was too damn cold to drink a beer so Lori's suggestion of hot tea was a great one. Ran my first of the 2 9K runs here.

First of two night runs at 10 pm. I was debating going back and doing the 6 am route again, but I wanted something absolutely 100% non technical because this klutzy lady really does suck at night running. This was the first time I really put my headlamp through the paces since I got it for Christmas and it did not disappoint!

Since it is my goal to run a 100 miler in 2021, I really need to get more experience with night running. I saw a pair of glowing eyes in the dark and nearly shit myself, but it turned out to be just Mr. Raccoon wondering what I was doing in his forest.

It was around 8-10 degrees, according to the thermometer, but I wore a fleece and leggings and was still pretty cold when the wind gusted.

I saved the easiest trail for last. I can't believe that originally I was going to do 10K here instead of 9K twice. I had a hard time dragging myself out of bed, I was really groggy and drank some Coke before heading out. Walking felt really good still. Actually my legs and body felt really good throughout, except on the first 1-2K of each run. But my brain was SOOO tired, so I forced myself to run and not think about it too much. The temperature was still around 8C, but I dressed like I would have for a -15C run in the daytime (merino l/s base layer, fleece, tights, earwarmer) and felt just right when the wind blew.

Then I was DONE, woohoo!


  • My cumulative 50K time was one of my faster 50K times, if it had been done in one chunk. I know this is comparing apples and oranges with the 6 different routes I ran, but there was only a 10 minute difference between my fastest and slowest loops. 
  • Was this an ultra? You could call it one if you want, but to me personally, an ultra should be done at one venue, without stopping, except for chäir breaks.
  • Apparently I get REALLY cold post-run. I mean, I knew I did, but normally I have a hot shower and hot food afterwards to mitigate the damage.
  • I really wasn't prepared for the amount of laundry this would generate.
If I was to do a similar challenge again, I'd start at night to get that part over with first. And if I wanted to add extra distance to any run, I'd definitely get those over with earlier too!

Thursday, 26 December 2019

2019 year in review

In 2019, I will reach my goal of 2019 miles one run earlier than I did in 2018. Currently at 3242K (2014.4 miles) with 4 or 5 runs remaining.

Events: 11 -  3 ultras, 1 DNF.

Badges: BT Iroquoia Winter E2E, BT Iroquoia side trail challenge, Falling Water, 3/4 sections of the GVT.

Beer: A LOT!!!

Highlights: the hot dog challenge, birthday sexy pace run, winter night run with a tree strapped to my head, Maitland E2E weekend, volunteering at Foxtail 100.

Maybe not highlights, but definitely memorable: missing a turn and running 6K extra (all on road) with Lori and finished with a roadside radler, a lot of "where the fuck is the blaze?" on the GVT, MUD MUD MUD at Sulphur and Palmer's Pond.

Ahead in 2020: surpassing 30000 lifetime kilometres, at least 2 100K's, 2020 miles, finish GVT and BT Blue Mountains badges.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Maitland Trail E2E Birthday Girls' Weekend Extravaganza

It is Lori and Agnes' birthdays next week, and we made plans to run the Maitland Trail (49ish kms, heavy on the ish) end to end. This post is going to be extremely picture heavy, and most of the pictures were taken by Agnes, Lori or myself, I could check and label every one, but I will admit that I'm far too lazy for that.

We stayed at an absolutely gorgeous Airbnb. It was my first time staying in one and I'm so glad it was a great experience. The Airbnb host, Jesse, drove us to the trailhead at Goderich Beach. The Bad Thing race has a different mystery start location every year, not at the actual trailhead.

The Start. 
Just after sunrise on Menesetung Bridge.
The first section was on rail trail, during the race you take a more rugged side trail, but end to end means keep following the white blazes!

I am cow, hear me moo
I weigh twice as much as you
And I look good on the barbeque
Yogurt, curd, cream cheese and butter's
Made from liquid from my udders,
I am cow, I am cow, hear me moo!
h/t Arrogant Worms

We met Steve, one of the Bad Thing organizers and Jesse's neighbour running to meet us. When Steve heard that we were running end to end, he provided maps, dropped water on the trail, AND drove Agnes' car to the finish so we didn't have to waste time shuttling cars. He ran with us for a couple of kilometres and took a few pictures:
A tornado went through this area a few years ago,
and it is now known as FUF3.
Selfie with Steve.

Since the namesake Bad Thing hill is actually an out and back off the main trail, we technically didn't have to do it, but Steve strongly suggested that we do, and hey, why not. Despite its name, it's really not much of a challenge, there are far worse climbs on the trail.

Bad Thing...all ~200 m of it.
The next landmark was Falls Reserve Conservation Area, the river looked particularly beautiful and we found stairs that went down to water level.

Bulldoggo chubbypants trying his 
best to get down the stairs.

Next up was Benmiller Inn. I clearly remember the beauty of the reflection of the trees in the water and it was just as lovely as I remembered.

It is important to note that the trail was very well marked and maintained, which was a huge contrast after a summer of running the GVT, which is neither well marked or maintained. There were only a couple spots where we had to fan out to find a blaze, or backtrack a few hundred metres, but we never even had to use the map and most importantly, no bushwhacking!

At 30K, we reached Steve's water drop. Since it was a fairly cool day, we weren't in desperate need of a refill, but it was good to have the water anyways.

I really wished we had some Coke in the drop bag!
Photo credit: Lori

The next section up to 40K was what I remembered was the most difficult and it was just as hard as I recall. Narrow, somewhat technical singletrack, downhill to a stream water crossing, and scramble up the embankment to go up a really steep hill. Rinse and repeat several times. In 2017 it was way muddier, but it was still super slow, right at a mentally difficult part, about 2/3rds in.

I'm certain many f-bombs 
were coming out of my mouth.

a rather sad looking chäir.

Trail apples are so delicious!!

We ended up having to hustle in the final few kilometres to be done before sunset, as we hadn't brought headlamps. This was my first time running an ultra distance with Lori and Agnes, and we never ran out of things to talk about, but the conversation ranged from proper pronounciation of dim sum menu items to signs that a person is sleeping vs. dead in their car.
During the race, you cross the river to finish, but given the chilly temperatures we opted to take the dry route. The easiest would have been to backtrack to a driveway that led to the road, but what's the fun in that? 

Agnes climbing.
Photo credit: Agnes

Finally, the last victory 1K hike into Auburn. We ran the last 50 metres to the car and celebrated.

A celebratory shot of Wigle cinnamon whiskey
from my mint green holo flask.

Bonus pics of Jesse's doggo and catto:

"I'm not fat, just floofy."

We recovered with beers at Cowbell.

And a hike down to the beach to gaze at the aqua waters of Lake Huron.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Falling Water - My First Trail Marathon

Somehow, after 12 years of running, this was my first trail marathon. Happy Trails first announced the race in summer 2018, with no details other than 1. it's a marathon-ish 2. there are very limited spots and 3. the scenery would be amazing. I was one of the lucky 80 people who snagged a spot.
v gud boi Tucker tied to my hubcap pre-race. Video credit: Martin.

The race didn't start too early so I drove up in the morning with Steve and Tucker. Normally at races with local peeps I'd say I know about 1/3rd of the field; at Falling Water I knew the majority of the participants.
Some of my favourite people: K, Bogdan, Agnes!
The first 6.5K was out and back, with a giant climb up a ski hill. That was the only point at which you could access drop bags so I travelled light and brought nothing extra beyond what I'd carry with me. The course was kind of a convoluted figure 8 - course descriptions beyond the basic three (loop, out and back, point to point) make no sense to me in written form.

Photo credit: K
As you can see from the pictures, I decided to use poles, and a lot of other people did too. A few weeks ago, Agnes let me try her lightest poles (that she used) just to see if I liked poles, then she lent me her 2nd lightest poles, which are significantly heavier but still tolerable. The poles are really helpful for getting uphill.

I learned from my training mistake last year for Cape Chignecto and did almost zero speedwork and added in long hill repeats. I also did two long runs in Blue Mountain, and the hills at Cook Forest were also excellent training. The worst climb by far was the Graham's/Campbell's Hill ST, which is actually a gravel road, which we did twice during the race and was about 3-4x the length of Martin Rd in Dundas. I don't have a picture of this hill and pictures couldn't do it justice anyways, as we'd round a bend and the hill kept going..and going..

Rounding out the back of the pack with Agnes and I was a lady named Karen, we ran together until she dropped at AS4 because she was supposed to be tapering for BFC next week. Steve is also doing BFC but he finished because he's a special brand of crazy.
Karen and I, endlessly climbing. Photo credit: Agnes
So we were promised awesome views and waterfalls. Here they are!

We were probably up at the top at some point. 
Good thing #vertsnotreal.

Hogg's Falls in motion. See the rainbow in the mist?
Love how the course detoured a few metres off the BT for waterfall picture opportunities at Hogg's Falls!
Eugenia Falls. SO GORGEOUS!!

This stone arch with a rock propped up in front - perfect photo op.
As we finished Graham's/Campbell's hill (aka The Big Fucking Hill That Never Fucking Ends) the second time, we came up to AS2/5, which was staffed by the Beaver Valley BTC. The club president gave us instructions on how to navigate the final 5K, which had a turn that was easily missed, but I admitted to her that in our brain-dead state, I could not process her instructions. 

This house. This waterfall! OMG! ❤❤❤

So this happened at some point in the later stages of the race:

Agnes: I see a big black dog over there.
Me: eeeee
We pass by and there is no dog.
Agnes: I think that might actually have been a bear cub.
But hey, there were no pictures, so maybe it didn't happen. 🤷‍♀️

Since our friend Bogdan had been MIA for so many months, I wanted to make sure he was at the finish.

Last horses. Photo credit: Steve
I LOVE the fact that we got a badge for completing Falling Water, because of Trail Math the distance was of course 42.2K-ish, definitely not a Boston Qualifier! Since this was my first trail marathon, it was a PB of sorts but also a PW if you also count my 10 previous road marathons.


Agnes: who stumbles through the woods and climbs torturous hills for 9+ hours and still has fun?!
Me: psychopaths like us. 
well earned beer and chäir.